What Were Lacrosse Balls Originally Made Of? A Look Back Through History

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The Ancient Origins of Lacrosse Balls

Lacrosse is an ancient sport dating back centuries to the Indigenous tribes of North America. It was a popular game amongst Native American nations, and they were known for their skill in creating small balls out of natural materials like wood, stone, or hide. But what did they use as the original lacrosse ball?

Animal Hide – The First Lacrosse Ball Material

One material that was used as the first lacrosse ball is animal hide. As early as 1636, French Jesuit missionary Jean de Brébeuf wrote about “a kind of game with sticks and balls” played by indigenous people near modern-day Montreal, and he described the balls being made from deerskin stuffed with hair or moss. So it appears that this material was already in use when Europeans first arrived on North American soil.

The hides of deer, elk, or buffalo provided an ideal material for these traditional lacrosse balls because they are thick enough to be durable yet soft enough to absorb some impact without breaking apart too readily. However, using animal skins also had its drawbacks; depending on how much moisture or heat there was during play could cause them to shrink or expand – making them difficult to control during games!

Wooden Materials Used for Lacrosse Balls

Once Europeans began settling in North America, wooden materials became more accessible and started to replace animal hides as the main choice for creating lacrosse balls. Wooden molds would have been used along with waxes and resins mixed together into a paste and then rolled into shape around the mold before being allowed to harden and dry into a solid sphere ready for play! This type of process has been found archaeologically at sites such as Fort Michilimackinac, where archaeologists discovered several wooden spheres crafted from maple wood – one even still containing fragments of pine resin within it!

These wooden lacrosse balls were much easier than their predecessors made from animal hide because they didn’t require any special preparation before playing (such as soaking in water). They also weren’t affected by changes in temperature, so players could rely on consistent performance throughout games!


Today’s modern version of lacrosse requires synthetic leathers constructed specifically designed for durability while maintaining its bouncy characteristics when thrown around fields all over the world.. While today’s standard may be different than what our ancestors used hundreds of years ago – we can thank Indigenous tribes who kept this sport alive through time by experimenting with different materials available at that time period including: animal hides & wood.